Low spirits aren’t good for business, British or any other

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL February 8, 2021


“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”
– George Orwell

A Brexit update doesn’t mean it’s business as usual. Au contraire. This week, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic will visit the British capital to have a good long chat with Boris Johnson’s Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove.

The topic will be: post-Brexit friction in Northern Ireland.

Good luck with that.

Arelene Foster, first minister of Northern Ireland, belongs to the Brexit-supporting Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). And on Sunday, February 7, the DUP was leading a campaign to scrap the Northern Ireland Protocol – Article 16 of the post-Brexit arrangement – which keeps the land border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic open but imposes controls on trade from Britain to Northern Ireland.

Despite criticism that it is “whipping up hysteria”, the DUP continues to insist that its own reading of the Brexit arrangement – which, incidentally, was agreed to by the Johnson government – should now prevail.

In other Brexit news: Prime Minister Johnson’s government has denied the conclusions of a survey carried out by logistics body the Road Haulage Association (RHA), which said that exports from British ports to the EU fell 68 per cent in January compared with the same period last year. RHA chief executive Richard Burnett also told the Observer that 65 to 75 per cent of lorries arriving from the EU were returning to the Continent empty, amid shortages of goods; hold-ups in the UK; and a move by some British companies to halt EU exports. That suggests declining morale rather than business confidence.

Low spirits – and trade barriers – aren’t good for business. British or any other.